Part II of last week's post, "I Heard the Angels Sing, Part I".
This post was written by Tracey Coveart, Port Perry, Ontario. An excerpt from "The IDEAL Way to Cook: Food for Thought".
Stephanie was diagnosed with autism when she was six. She despised touch, eye contact. She lived in her own world of animals, animation and Disney characters, but she welcomed me into it - and I went, happily and gratefully.
At seventeen, Stephanie walks. She talks incessantly (and sounds just like her mother). She laughs. She hugs me. And she has never lost the ability to experience pure joy. She does it every day. Bare feet in the grass. A Frisbee, caught. A compliment.
Simba is still her best friend. But she has opened her arms to embrace the people who adore her. (And anybody who has a dog or cat!)
Her enthusiasm is infectious. She is loved by everyone her spirit touches.
Stephanie cannot read or write or do math, but these are just skills. And she has so many other wonderful talents that compensate for any abilities that she lacks.
It is not one's ability to read a soup label or balance a cheque book that is the determination of a full and meaningful life.
Stephanie has been enrolled in the associated program at school for her entire educational experience. She has no idea that she is different from the 'mainstream' kids; that she and her friends have 'special needs'. What she does have is self-confidence. Oodles of it. And a profound sense of belonging, of fitting in. She is the happiest, most well-adjusted young lady I have ever met. And as a parent, that is all I could ever hope for.
At one time, Stephanie was my greatest sorrow - a tiny tragedy that I had carried in my womb and brought forth into this harsh world. Not anymore. Stephanie taught me that the greatest gifts come wrapped in unusual packages. They don't fit neatly under the tree, but they yield the most wonderful surprises.
Although our life is not simple and the future is a frightening country, Stephanie is my greatest blessing. And if God came down to earth today and asked if I would like Him to make her a 'normal' girl, I would refuse. She is perfect. Just the way she is.
I have always said that when Stephanie was born, I heard the angels sing. I realize now that they were saying good-bye to one of their own.
Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt